A Slow Boat to Suva

After a week in the anchorage we thought it would be fun to take a little voyage across the Koro Sea on the overnight ferry to Suva. There’s nothing like a boat trip to break up the monotony of life on a mooring. The salt air, the romance of ancient maritime traditions, a sturdy German ferry built in 1970, how could we resist?

We splurged for the occasion and booked a cabin for the overnight passage.  Once aboard we began some immediate schooling in commercial marine practice, an area where K thought he had seen everything. We noticed right away that the Westerland had been re-fit with some interesting design details, like the plate glass bulkhead on our state room.

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This feature helped to remind us that we are way richer than the other 500 passengers who travel as deck cargo, and much older than we used to be when we used to travel as deck cargo. It also provided the majority with a view of the good life, which made us feel rather obnoxious, really. Happily there was a retro-fit curtain, our air conditioner kept the window nice and frosty for privacy, and when we closed our eyes to sleep through the passage we were able to forget where we were, which helped salve our feelings of guilt.

The other side of the space had a sliding glass door that bisected an escape hatch.

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This was just as well because throughout the night the deck cargo folks would dog and undog the hatch to check its function. S slept in her clothes and K was repeatedly teased by the expectation of feeding time.

We had a great view of the stern ramp and spent hours watching the deck department press-fit cargo trucks into the vehicle deck.

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Then the last one was secured for sea with a 3 inch hawser on the mooring capstans.

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In the morning the forwards trucks backed off and the backwards trucks drove forwards with their Ro-Ro cargos of lumber, goats, and straight-jacketed geese riding precariously in a cardboard box on top of it all.

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This box of geese went for a bit of a road trip before the driver remembered to secure them. They could have been damaged in transit. Always check your load!

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Our peculiar routing included a bonus 1.5-hour bus ride from a  ferry terminal in the jungle to the bustling port city of Suva. We heard a lot of great things about this bus trip from the ticket agent and our friend Aseri at the marina. Everyone agreed that the road was really good, paved even, and the rural scenery was pleasant.

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So we crammed into the very back seat of the 3rd bus, where we sat with some over-jolly young Fijian lads and took some snaps out the window….

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Eventually we got to the outskirts of Suva where a great many buses comingle in a hive of commuting Fijians.   A local young man sitting next to us on the bus took pity on us as we sat patiently waiting to see where we were being taken.  Unasked, he made some calls on his cell phone to find out where our hotel was and helpfully told us when we should get off.  Then he was gone in a cloud of diesel exhaust before we could learn his name.  We found our hotel just half a block away.

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18°05.00’S 178°39.00’E 29-Apr-11 10:30 UTC

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